Fellowship Recap: Ian Ousley (MSA '18)
Monday, January 23 2017 12:00am
Written by: Ian Ousley
In a rather unique set of circumstances, my acceptance into Ohio University’s MBA/MSA dual-degree program was offered to me with an additional third component – a year spent as a fellow at the United States Military Academy at West Point. This extra year, one that in the beginning I briefly feared might include shaving my head and wearing a military uniform, was to include working under an OHIO Sports Ad graduate and current Associate Athletic Director, Garrett Munro (MSA ‘10), in Army Athletics. Coincidentally, two other OHIO alums were also working in the Army A Club when I was hired: Brian White (‘08) and Kelsey Thomas (‘14).
As a Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Science major at the University of Nebraska and with very little work experience, I’ll fully admit that I did not quite know what I was getting myself into when I moved out to New York to begin work in June of 2015. However, I did know that as a Development & Operations Coordinator at West Point that I would be helping to make a difference in the lives of the cadet-athletes. The Army A Club’s focus is to assist in the development of “leaders of character” by generating financial support for Army Athletics. As a former collegiate student-athlete myself, this mission truly resonated with me.
My first interaction with these future “leaders of character” came in my first week on the job when R-Day (Reception Day) occurred and the 1,000 newest members of the Academy arrived. The raw mix of nervousness, anticipation, and excitement from the Plebes (Freshmen at West Point) quickly put into perspective the commitment that they had undertaken and the importance of our work in the A Club. This continued to be reinforced as I attended athletic contests, watched their military training, and developed relationships with the cadets.
My responsibilities in the A Club varied widely and resulted in an experience that gave me a taste of every part of athletic fundraising. Significant portions of my time were spent coordinating all aspects of football donor parking, aiding with database management, and executing special projects. Additionally, I assisted with the development and retention of donors through solicitations, tours, and event hospitality. As a function of staff turnover in my last couple of months, I also learned the ins and outs of gift processing through managing all facets of that for athletics.
While every event held at the military academy has an extra level of significance, three stand out in particular: the Men’s and Women’s Army-Navy basketball games, and the Army-Navy football game. Basketball’s Army-Navy rivalry was renewed at Madison Square Garden during the epic blizzard of 2016 that crippled New York City’s public transportation. This led to our staff being snowed in overnight and having a snowball fight in the empty streets of NYC being added to my list of unique experiences.
To highlight the event itself, the Women’s Basketball team registered a dominating 75-38 win over Navy. Football’s rivalry continued in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, and while the 2015 game would result in a loss, I traveled to Baltimore one year later in 2016 to witness the first win over Navy in 15 years.
Throughout my year at USMA, the importance of relationships was continuously reinforced. The people I met – coworkers, bosses, friends, cadet-athletes, and of course donors – are what made the experience everything that I could’ve hoped it would be. A special thank you goes to those I worked with in the A Club, to the donors who treated me like family, and to the future leaders of America who allowed me a glimpse into what their lives are like. My bosses, Garrett Munro and Tim House, made a huge impact on my personal and professional development – I’m especially grateful for all of their support and for providing the experience.
For any future Bobcats considering a fellowship before beginning your time in Athens, do it! The people you will meet, the experiences you will have, and the perspective you will gain after working full-time in athletics will be invaluable to your personal growth. I strongly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity. However, if you’re doubting at all the value of taking that year as a fellow, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me about working at Army.
Go Bobcats, and Beat Navy!